Electronic logging devices (ELDs), which track driver hours of service, remain a major issue for produce shippers looking to get their product to market in a timely fashion, logistics suppliers say. It may be the biggest issue the industry faces this year, perhaps because it applies more pressure on drivers to get loaded quickly. With longer-than-usual loading times and the final changes to the ELD rules, most U.S.-market shippers are struggling to load trucks in a timely fashion, with some produce facility wait times of more than 12 hours. Regulators must address wait times, said John Hollay, senior director of government relations with the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association. “Given the wider implementation of ELDs, the government must ensure that time logged is time spent in actual transit and not in time spent by drivers waiting for the product to be loaded,” Hollay said.
Transportation providers have been transitioning to electronic logging systems over the last couple of years, and the transition has been smooth with some and bumpy road for produce haulers. Since their implementation, ELDs have shined a spotlight on shipper operations and their importance to carriers’ drive times. Lots of people are talking about HOS rules that need to be overhauled, As we all are waiting for FMCSA recommended changes to take effect. Most of the impact felt by the mandate of ELDs was absorbed by the marketplace in late 2017-early 2018, while normalcy in carrier capacity has returned, shippers have recognized that greater efficiencies and stronger relationships with carriers are now more critical than ever. Alert and rested drivers are essential, but the rules should allow for a bit of flexibility, Hollay Said. “We are as concerned as anyone that fresh produce drivers have proper rest and are not a danger to others on the road, but that requires greater flexibility in the enforcement and application of these regulations,” Hollay said. “We are confident that updated regulations and potential legislation will include policies that ensure that fresh produce will be delivered both safely and in a timely manner.”